The Caenorhabditis elegans let-23 gene is a genetically characterized member of the epidermal growth factor receptor (EGFR) tyrosine kinase family. Mutations in let-23 can produce five phenotypes in the nematode. Alleles of let-23 include null alleles, reduction-of-function alleles and alleles that disrupt function in some cell types and not others. We have sequenced some of these mutations to identify sequences and regions important for overall let-23 function and for let-23 function in specific cell types. Our data indicate that in vivo, the receptor's C-terminus can be partitioned into at least three domains that each contribute to receptor function in different cell types. In particular, we find distinct domains that mediate hermaphrodite fertility and vulval induction. Our data also demonstrate for the first time that a single, conserved residue in the ligand binding domain is critical for function in vivo and that mutations in the extracellular cysteines characteristic of the EGFR family can lead to a partial or a complete reduction of receptor function.